On the West Coast, we are in a jam. Cargo just isn't moving as quick as it needs to. There are tons of reasons why. This isn't to talk about why cargo isn't moving but how the industry is responding. Keeping the doors open and cargo moving feels impossible but, that's all part of the fun.
In case you missed it...
West Coast ports and terminals are chock-o-block full. No room anywhere. Cargo is barely moving. However, the flow of cargo from Asia hasn't stopped or even slowed down. Ships are still calling West Coast ports and moving cargo across oceans. We are in a tough position in the terminals. How do we continue to work and move cargo if we are physically out of space? It's honestly very rough.
What we did
About four or so months ago, we took our "under construction" terminal and opened it as a storage yard for rail bound cargo that was dwelling. One thing led to another and the small railroad storage yard turned into a full blown yard operation. One caveat to running an operation at a terminal under construction - we have no systems or location markings. The whole terminal is like the wild west. It's confusing, aggravating, and a ton of fun all at the same time.
Getting started felt like the impossible task of the century. I knew that in the coming months the terminal would open for real but, once we finished construction and had our standard systems in place. Then the port almost stopped working altogether. I remember thinking, "how the hell are we going to organize ll of this cargo and deliver it to the railroad?" I was convinced that it'd never work and we would never be able to figure it out. It truly felt like an impossible task.
Fast forward several months and the impossible tasks kept growing, and we've figured it out.
No way to keep the cargo organized? No problem. We'll figure out how to piggy back on our sister terminals systems.
Empty containers need a home? You got it. We'll figure out how to take them in from over the road drivers and deliver them back out without a gate or formal interchange.
Exports for distressed shippers need pre staging? Deal, we'll make it happen all on pen and paper.
Power out one day a week for construction? No problem. We'll come up with a new solution to work around it and keep production up.
When the impossible becomes the norm you grow immensely
Every time a new impossible task came up, we all grew. We all learned new processes and tried new ideas. One of the best things about living in the impossible, is you're forced to learn new processes and innovate solutions. Living in the impossible means you get to go home at the end of the day and say, "f*ck yeah, we just demolished the impossible."
Today the impossible came up again. Delivering imports to truckers on demand, by specific container, in an insane volume, without a system, location markings, or any way to direct truckers. I almost jumped off a bridge. Now THAT IS REALLY IMPOSSIBLE! How do we accomplish that at all? I give up....
Then I remembered I thought the same exact thing when I heard we were getting rail imports, and losing power, and receiving and delivering empties and exports. I had the same conversation in my mind. "How do I do this without a system?"
Impossible is the land of opportunity for growth and innovation. It's where you develop new systems and processes. It's where you truly see what you're made of. Do you stand up to the challenge or back down and hide to the comfort of what you know. Impossible isn't comfortable or easy. Impossible is where the men are separated from the boys. Impossible is hard and uncomfortable. I wouldn't rather be any other place than deep in the impossible.